Dodging the Sunset: Bader Foundation Splits in Two, Vows to Continue

Back in June, the clock really appeared to be ticking on the Helen Bader Foundation. We reported on a big aging grant of $1.5 million to the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute that it gave earlier in the summer of 2014, noting that this kind of gift was unusual for the organization as of late. It had slowed down grantmaking dramatically during the financial crisis, and seemed to be moving forward with realigned priorities—priorities that cut out small fry and went right for gutsy initiatives. The foundation itself was on track to sunset by 2020, at the time.

But no more. The Milwaukee-based foundation has changed its name and structure, and plans to increase and extend its grantmaking. The source? An $8 million annual contribution from Isabel and Alfred Bader. Moving forward, the organization will be renamed Bader Philanthropies, and it will be comprised of two separate funds: the Helen Daniels Bader Fund and the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund. Grantmaking is set to climb by a whopping 40 percent, to more than $14 million annually.

The new entity will comprise two distinct funds that reflect the values and interests of their namesakes —the Helen Daniels Bader Fund and the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund. HDBF will continue to focus on issues to which Alfred Bader's first wife was devoted, including healthy aging and Alzheimer's disease, the arts, and Jewish education, while IABF will focus on areas of interest to Alfred and his second wife, Isabel Overton Bader, including workforce development, Community Partnerships for Youth, Jewish education in greater Milwaukee, and directed grants programs.

Grants will be awarded from a pool administered by Bader Philanthropies, reports, and grant applicants will submit applications to the umbrella organization. The foundation will continue to be led by Alfred and Helen's sons—Daniel J. as president and CEO and David M. as vice president—while Margaret Foster, a healthcare administrator and the niece of Isabel Bader, will join the board. Founded in 1992, HBF has invested a total of $250 million in efforts to address social needs in Wisconsin, Israel, and other parts of the world.

"I think [Helen] would be very proud of the legacy of the foundation and impressed with what we’ve been able to accomplish since we started in the early '90s," David M. Bader told, "and she would be very happy, I think, that we are increasing our giving and helping to fund more organizations and serve more people."